I've been a fan of Gordon Ramsay since he started his television career with 'Boiling Point.' He has been a star ever since.
US vs. UK
If you were a first-time viewer of either show and did not know what the show was about, you could clearly see that the UK edition looks and feels like a documentary. Gordon himself is the narrator and the look and feel are very serious. It is like watching something from The History Channel or National Geographic. The feel of the show is very professional and subtle.
The US version meanwhile looks very much like your standard reality show that is full of controversy, suspense, and drama. The US show focuses on the full range of the human emotional spectrum from anger (such as disagreements with the co-owners) to joy (such as the reaction of the owners and staff when the restaurant is remodeled). The show is in your face and tries to use shock value in order to draw an audience.
Focus on the Restaurant vs Focus on the Drama
The UK version of the show delves into the action plan Gordon has in order to save the restaurant such as revising the menu, sprucing up the place, and getting people into the restaurant. Here, Gordon acts more like a consultant. He comes in, sees what is wrong with the restaurant, and gives his recommendations. Gordon acts more like a turnaround guy that restaurant chains send to troubled branches or franchises to turn them around.
The US version focuses much more on conflict, whether it be between the owners, the owners, and staff, or the owners and Gordon. Though there are the standard parts of the show such as the big reveal and the revising of the menu, the show is more focused on people's reaction to the said changes. Here, Gordon comes off as a larger-than-life character that comes in to save the restaurant. He is more like a superhero rescuing the downtrodden.
The Owners Are More Respectful in the UK Edition
The owners in the UK edition are mostly much more polite to Gordon as they treat him as a master of his craft. It is rare for Gordon to have confrontations in the UK version of the show.
One of the rare ones was against Brian of the Fenwick Arms due to how exceptionally stubborn he was.
The US edition treats Gordon as more of a television personality who always gets into fights with the owners of the restaurants and at times even with some of the staff members.
The owners treat Kitchen Nightmares more like a show and not as an endeavor done by Gordon to give back to the industry.
A lot of the owners Gordon tried to help were in fact very ungrateful. Among them was David of the Black Pearl and Samy Bouzaglo of Amy's Baking Company. They have to think that there are thousands of struggling restaurants all over the nation and it is fortunate that they got picked. Gordon owes them nothing and they owe Gordon. Gordon spends the time and resources to help these restaurants get back on their feet and the least they could do is thank Gordon.
The US Edition Has More Shock Value Than the UK Version
In each episode of the US version, the producers of the show tried to incorporate scenes that will provide shock value to the audience. Three scenes would come to mind—the burning of Willy the alligator at Flamango's, the crushing of the promotional signs at the Mixing Bowl, and the wedding between Anthony and Tiffany at Trobiano's.
The producers made sure to include dramatic music and edit these scenes in such a way that their impact is great.
The UK edition did not rely on shock value. The show was simply about Gordon trying to save struggling restaurants. No frills and no gimmicks.
Each Version Handles Revisits Differently
The US episode ends after Gordon relaunches the restaurant, leaving the audience on a cliffhanger as to the fate of the restaurant. Gordon does a revisiting episode after each season and revisits the restaurants he tried to save before and see how they are doing.
In the UK version, he revisits the restaurant after a few months and incorporates the results as part of the same episode.
© 2018 Jan Michael Ong
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on December 04, 2018:
I have not really followed this show as I may have viewed the US version and did not like it. I like to learn and be entertained but I don't like meanness in shows. I will try to watch the UK version.